Training & Development, January 1994
For another approach to diversity training, you may want to try the board game, Diversophy: Understanding the Human-Race, from Multus.
- "diversismarts," which ask for players' knowledge of diversity facts
- "diversichoice," which ask players to apply their knowledge of diversity to real-life situations
- "diversishare," which ask players to tell about their own cultural backgrounds and their experiences with people from various backgrounds
- "diversirisk," which show some of the opportunities and challenges of living and working in a multicultural world.
The game is designed to be played with a facilitator to assist in debriefings and in-depth exploration of topics raised during play.
Members on the move
Business Santa Cruz - August, 1994.
Diversophy Makes the Cover
George Simons International is thrilled to announce that its cultural diversity training game diversophy® is featured on the cover and in the main story of the July 1994 issue of Successful Meetings Magazine.
Michael Adams' cover story, "Games Companies Play: Combining Training and Fun is Right on Target for Today's Workplace" focuses on the trend in corporations and organizations toward using training games to energize and educate employees.
diversophy®, the brainchild of long-term Santa Cruz diversity consultant Dr. George F. Simons and co-produced with Multus Inc. of San Mateo, provides an exciting and non-threatening environment to explore, learn about and celebrate cultural difference.
Quoted in the article, Multus Inc. President Jose Lafortune said that games "help you learn in spite of yourself. Games tap into all cultures."
George Simons International, based in Santa Cruz, CA is a diversity consulting and training firm. Working in over 15 -countries, GSI serves clients such as Procter & Gamble, the General Service Administration of the U.S. Government, Mobil Plastics Europe and Sun Microsystems
Better Than Trivial Pursuit
The Journal of Workforce Diversity
Are you looking for a non-threatening training tool to help your employees discover important cultural differences and develop awareness? Look no further than "The Gender Deck: Issues of Gender, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Orientation in the Workplace," which is designed for use with the original DIVERSOPHY, an experiential training tool produced by MULTUS Inc.
The Gender Deck contains four learning experiences to:
- Develop participants' knowledge of facts about diversity, e.g., sexual harassment laws and gender differences
- Solicit the best way to handle face-to-face situations with people different from themselves
- Allow the sharing of personal information about their own background, values, and experiences around gender issues
- Enable them to experience the challenges they face working with people whose gender and sexual orientation are different.
Dr. George Simons, collaborator on the development of The Gender Deck, points out the critical need for organizations to address gender issues. "People tend to withdraw from rather than try to overcome gender-based differences," he says.
"Gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues are on the cutting-edge of diversity topics," notes Amy Zuckerman, coauthor of Sexual Orientation In The Workplace. "Even though our society has made progress toward accepting gays and lesbians, homophobic discrimination, violence, and stereotypes still exist. Tools such as The Gender Deck will help people work through their feelings with accurate information."
MULTUS Inc. specializes in the development and distribution of interactive and other training media that address critical issues in today's workplace. For more information, contact MULTUS Inc., 46 Treetop Lane, Suite 200, San Mateo, CA 94402; 415/342-2040.
Games Augment Diversity Training • HR Offers Protection During Takeovers • Simulations Build Teams
PERSONNEL JOURNALJUNE 1993THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR LEADERS IN HUMAN RESOURCES
Games Augment Diversity Training
If you think that games are just for children, think again. According to New York City-based Toy Manufacturers of America, retail sales of adult games topped $160 million in 1992. Adults too, it seems, love to play games.
That's why many HR professionals are turning to board games for training purposes. Board games provide information to participants in an entertaining way. Players learn while they compete. In addition, the interactive nature of games offers the opportunity for informal discussions.
One area of training that games have impacted in the last few years is diverSity. Since 1991, at least three board games addressing diversity issues have hit the training-products market. Trainers are finding that they can use these games to introduce the topic of diversity to employees, or to incorporate the games into existing diversity-training programs as follow-up or reinforcement.
Although each game is unique in design and play format, all three have the same objectives—to raise awareness about diversity topics in a non-threatening manner and stimulate conversations about these issues.
Sharing adds additional interaction.
A similar board game designed as a diversity-training tool is DIVERSOPHY —Understanding the Human Race™, created as a joint project by San Mateo, California-based Multus Inc. and George Simons International in Santa Cruz, California.
In DIVERSOPHY, players take turns rolling dice and moving game pieces around a multicolored board that has a pattern resembling a racetrack. (Individual players are recommended for this game, to promote individual involvement and to keep the game moving at a quick pace. However, it can played in teams of two.) Colored squares along the paths correspond to colored cards. When landing on these squares, players must read a corresponding card and follow directions.
Like the other game, some cards require answering multiple-choice questions. For example, when landing on green spaces, players must read from diversiSMARTS cards. One such card asks the question: In Hispanic families, one of the highest values is placed on which of the following?
- Being on time
- Respect for elders.
(The answer, according to the authors, is D. The question writers document their resources for all answers in the game package.)
What differentiates DIVERSOPHY from the QED game is diversiSHARE cards, drawn when players land on blue spaces: These require players to share something about themselves. For example, one card states: "Name three similarities between yourself and the person directly to your right." Other cards ask players to relate personal experiences or to challenge other players to talk about their experiences relating to a particular topic.
diversiCHOICE cards, drawn when players land on a yellow space, require players to choose the best option in a given situation. For example, one diversiCHOICE card poses this situation: A 61-year-old employee asks you to approve him or her for a leadership training program. Normally it takes seven years for the employee to advance to the intended management position. You should:
- Acknowledge the employee's right to participate and enroll him or her.
- Reject the application.
- Discourage the applicant and get him or her to withdraw voluntarily.
(According to the creators of the game, the correct answer is B — Reject the application because the long-term investment involved justifies this decision.)
Red cards don't pose questions but simply relay facts. Some of these cards send players to celebration squares on the board as players team about a different cultural festivity.
(Did you know that during the Islamic season of Ramadan, people fast for 30 days in honor of the revelations given to the Prophet?)
These red cards also can send players into traps for making assumptions based on stereotypes or for displaying biased attitudes. (Assuming that the only male employee in your office will carry in heavy boxes will cost you a turn.)
To win the game, a player has to collect the most diversiCO1NS, awarded for correct answers and each time a player's game piece passes through the middle DIVERSOPHY square. Game facilitators decide on the amount of time for play.
Multus began selling DIVERSOPHY at the beginning of this year.
Games get people talking about diversity.
Connie Bates, vices president of Multus Inc., says that most people who play Diversophy engage in conversations during the game. "A lot of the feedback we get is that the game creates conversation when the answers surprise people," she says.
Bates adds that one of Multus' goals in creating this game was to get people to talk about diversity issues.
To ensure that discussion develop, all three games come with facilitator-booklets. These help in-house people to facilitate the games and lead players into productive conversations — both during the games and after play. The step-by-step instructions include:
- How to optimize learning
- How to troubleshoot
- How to manage reaction
- How to arrange the cards (in DIVERSOPHY) to cover the issues that are most prevalent, in the organization.
Games serve as teaching tools.
Another goal of the games is to raise awareness and understanding of a multitude of diversity issues among workers.
Cheryl Heggemeier, HR regional manager for Silver Spring, Maryland based Manor Care, bought the DIVERSOPHY game in February and plans to use it in management training Heggemeier oversees 11 centers in the Florida area. Each center employs between 12 and 15 managers. Having the game will enable her to conduct group diversity training during regular visits to the centers. "A game format isn't threatening for the learners," she says, "and when people are involved, they get more out of it than if they're just listening to a lecturer or a video."
She hopes that the game will help the managers feel more comfortable talking about diversity issues. "I've noticed that although people want something done to fix the problems they see occurring between two groups of workers who don't get along, or between a client and an employee who speaks English as a second language, there's a great fear of opening up the subject," says Heggemeier. "I think the belief is that it might stir things up in a negative way." She says that because a game format addresses the topic in a fun, non threatening way, the chance of this happening is reduced. Playing a game has helped Heggemeier break the ice within her group and helped to start people talking about this touchy subject.
Other companies are buying the games to serve this same purpose. At Menlo Park, California-based ADIA
"A game format isn't threatening for the learners," she says, "and when people are involved, they get more out of it than if they're just listening to a lecturer or a video."
Personnel, for example, employee relations manager Patrice Paulson plans to use her recently purchased DIVERSOPHY game to raise the awareness level of field-staff personnel on diversity issues and provoke them into thinking— and talking—about these topics.
Games reinforce other training.
Some companies that have extensive diversity programs, however, use the games not as icebreakers to introduce the subject, but as a follow-up to reinforce the subject. Corning, for example, has an ongoing program consisting of eight different training courses. Business groups complete each segment of the training together so that each member is at the same level as the others on awareness and experience.
Often, when these groups get together for informal brown-bag lunch meetings or regular staff meetings, diversity-related topics and issues arise. In these situations, group supervisors ask the education and training department for additional materials that they can use. "The game basically is used as a follow-up activity to keep the topic of diversity alive and viable for people who want to learn more about these issues, but who don't necessarily want to go through another formal training experience," says Stevenson.
Trainees have fun playing games.
Stevenson says that the response has been favorable from people at Corning who have played the game. The human resources personnel have all found it to be a useful training tool and recommend it to managers frequently for use in follow-up activities.
Abernathy adds that one of the great benefits of the game is that if the questions aren't challenging enough, a company can develop its own, as Price Waterhouse did. The DIVERSOPHY game comes with blank cards for this purpose.
In addition, Multus is developing card sets that pertain to particular issues, such as gender-only cards and card sets on specific cultures. Multus also offers a service in which clients can peruse its data base of questions and choose items most relevant to their organizations.
It's this mix of questions that Manor Care's Heggemeier credits as the value of the game. "I feel that the knowledge about all these different cultures isn't something you can put together yourself," she says. Because of its usefulness in making individuals more culturally aware, Heggemeier says that the game is worth the cost. "I think that because it's a game, people find it difficult to understand why it costs so much. I get a lot of materials daily from companies trying to sell training products, so I know what training materials cost."
The experiences gained through the interaction of the games are as valuable as the knowledge learned. "People have told me that they felt closer to each other after playing the game," says Heggemeier. 'Some of these people have known each other for quite a while, but they learned something new about their co-workers." "It's a great team-binding activity," adds Corning's Kiefer, "and I thought it was fun." Adults, it seems, really do like to play games. •
Dawn Gunsch is an assistant editor at PERSONNEL JOURNAL.
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